November 9, 2005

Oil Company Execs Apparently Responsible for High Profits But Not Lower Prices

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 5:24 pm

When I heard that oil company executives would be appearing at the Senate today, I figured there were going to receive some kind of award for getting so much of their Gulf Coast refinery capacity up and running so quickly, and for helping to stabilize markets to the point where pump prices for gasoline throughout the Midwest have gone either close to or below $2 (see Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland, and Indianapolis).

Or perhaps the execs were about to be congratulated on achieving such great returns for their shareholders, millions of whom are average Americans who have invested directly or indirectly through their retirement plans in the stock market.

No, they’re getting grilled about making too much money.

Dear Senators: Grow up. The oil companies have done a great job recovering from the summer hurricanes; of course, it was in their competitive self-interest to do so, but that doesn’t negate the accomplishment. Free markets work.

UPDATE: EU Rota weighs in with the point that governments merely sit around and “siphon” off gasoline taxes that are vastly more than the “obscene” profits of the oil companies that do all the work.

Final Thoughts on Ohio’s Issues Election

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:58 pm

Issue I was carried by Rust Belt Counties

Issue 1′s 223K margin of victory essentially came from 5 counties: Cuyahoga (73K), Franklin (35K), Mahoning (17K), Montgomery (17K), and Summit (25K). It also took Hamilton and Lucas Counties by 10K each. Every one of these counties has a deteriorating oldline industrial base in need of some form of revitalization (not necessarily with more oldine industries, though), and it’s not surprising that Issue 1 would have appealed to these counties.

I also expect that officials from these counties are going to be first in line with their hands out looking for the Issue 1 booty.

Bob Taft’s choice to be invisible didn’t hurt either.

Turnout and Non-Votes

Blackwell predicted 41%; the actual was 39.7%.

I didn’t anticipate the amount of non-voting on the five issues that took place. Of the 3051K Ohio residents who voted:
- 277K (9.1%) did not vote on Issue 1
- 188K (6.1%) did not vote on Issue 2
- 210K (6.9%) did not vote on Issue 3
- 215K (7.0%) did not vote on Issue 4
- 235K (7.7%) did not vote on Issue 5

Those non-voting rates seem pretty high to me. To compare: Of the 5722K ballots cast in November 2004, only 94K (1.6%) did not make a choice for President, 296K (5.2%) did not make a choice for Senator (in a non-competitive race), and 327K (5.7%) did not vote on that election’s Issue 1 (the marriage amendment).

You might expect voters who bother to come out in an off-year election to be more motivated and more likely to actually make selections. But the monstrosity of the ballot probably put off more than a few people. In fact, you can probably look at the progression of non-votes increasing from Issues 2 through 5 as being due to increasing numbers of voters saying “They expect me to read all this stuff?”

National Media Non-Coverage of RON Issue Defeats

The AP Election Wire has absolutely nothing on the RON humiliations, but it manages to have a story about a mayor’s race (Cincinnati) involving less than 70,000 votes. According to this Google News search on “Ohio issues defeated,” no out-of state newspaper or wire service has an after-election story on the Issues 2-5 debacle. I guess if it doesn’t fit the template (“Bush rebuked“), it didn’t happen.

Ohio News Network has a pretty evenhanded story. Kevin DeWine, presumably a relative of the Senator, makes some noise about making an attempt to draw more reasonable district lines, which I don’t disagree with, as long as it’s rational. But he could have waited a few weeks to start working on it instead of speaking out; now he’ll have pseudo-reforming harpies on his case for years.

UPDATE: Now that 64% of voters have rejected Issue 2, the unfortunate reality is we’re stuck with most of it anyway. That’s because most of the garbage that was in Issue 2 was passed as HB 234. As discussed previously, it should be repealed immediately.

UPDATE 2 This Bloomberg piece manages to get in a sentence about Issues 2-5 in an article about how various state ballot initiatives fared throughout the nation: ” Similarly, voters in Ohio by margins of about 2-to-1 rejected four ballot issues that also included taking the authority to draw legislative districts away from lawmakers and other changes to how elections are run and campaigns funded.”

UPDATE 3: Give credit where it’s due–The New York Times, though the report has the usual biased tinge, at least devoted several paragraphs within a much larger story about how state initiatives fared. The CA initiatives got the lion’s share of the attention, but the NYT got the only loser’s quote I’ve seen printed in an out-of-state source so far. As expected, it’s are-you-kidding-me and in-denial in nature:

Keary McCarthy, a spokesman for Reform Ohio Now, the group behind the four initiatives, said that voters might have rejected the measures because they were confused by them. The national Republican Party and business interests ran a well-financed campaign to defeat them, Mr. McCarthy said.

“This became a national campaign,” he said. “If we did anything tonight, these issues are now in the public consciousness.”

You recognize it, don’t you? The “oh, those dumb voters” meme.
No sir. The only confusion in Ohio occurred when RON called this assemblage of rubbish “reform.”

Worse Than Worthless: Ohio Polls

Filed under: Corporate Outrage,MSM Biz/Other Ignorance — Tom @ 8:05 am

Polls, Schmolls.

At least two polls on the Reform Ohio Now (RON) initiatives in the closing weeks of the race were so far off, it’s a wonder anyone involved with them would want to be seen in public.

The Ray C. Bliss Akron Institute Survey (from Swing State Project post; Bliss Institute press release is here) really needs to go into hiding for a while. Here is what their Oct. 26 survey of 1,076 Ohio residents (not registered voters, not likely voters) said:

Issue 2 (Absentee Balloting)–Favor: 63.8%, Oppose: 36.2%
Issue 3 (Campaign Contribs.)–Favor: 61.2%, Oppose: 38.8%
Issue 4 (Redistricting)–Favor: 43.5%; Oppose: 56.5%
Issue 5 (Remove Secy. of State from Election Responsibility)–Favor: 42.5%, Oppose: 57.5%

As Chris Berman of ESPN might say: “That’s why they have the election”:

  • Issue 2 failed 36-64. The poll vs. actual difference was -28. (!)
  • Issue 3 failed 33-67. The poll vs. actual difference was -28. (!)
  • Issue 4 failed 30-70. The poll vs. actual difference was -13.
  • Issue 5 failed 30-70. The poll vs. actual difference was -12.

Even given the sampling problem, and even given a likely tilt towards Democrats in the sample (which I can’t prove, but has been a nasty habit in a lot of recent polls), what besides incompetence, or a fervent desire to tell someone what they want to hear, regardless of the truth, can explain 28-point differences?

OK, maybe the Blissful Bunch is a bunch of partisan hacks comfortably secure in a university setting. But what explains The Columbus Dispatch’s poll of Oct. 24 through Nov. 3? It seems in reasonable order: 1,872 registered voters (note: NOT likely voters) and a 2.5% margin of error (again from Swing State; percentages sometimes don’t add up to 100% because of rounding):

Issue 2–Yes: 59%; No: 33%; Undecided: 9%
Issue 3–Yes: 61%; No: 25%; Undecided: 14%
Issue 4–Yes: 31%; No: 45%; Undecided: 25%
Issue 5–Yes: 41%; No: 43%; Undecided: 16%

The self-named “Central Ohio’s Premier Information Source” is eating crow by the kilo today. Even if you treat all Undecideds as “Nos,” the final “Yes” tallies were lower than the poll’s results wrong by 23, 28, 1 and 11 points, respectively.

How can this happen? There is one clue at the Dispatch’s poll link: It was a mail poll. The activist, pro-RON types may have been more likely to respond than typical voters. Even considering that factor, though, two of the four differences are still ridiculously large, and the third isn’t exactly tiny.

In 30 years of following election results, I don’t think I have ever seen poll vs. actual differences like this. I’m not even sure I’ve ever seen differences of more than 10 points, let alone 28. They’re supposed to be getting better at this, not going into the toilet. I could have thrown darts and come closer than Bliss and the Dispatch did.

So it’s safe to say that until we see proof otherwise, polls taken in Ohio are worse than worthless, and in fact can be assumed to be at least 10 points off, if not more, in a Democrat and/or liberal direction.

Of course, you never want to get overconfident, but given the laughable poll vs. actual results of the RON initiatives, exactly why should Ohio Republicans be losing sleep over the supposed leads Paul Hackett (7th paragraph) and Sherrod Brown have over Mike DeWine in the the 2006 Senate race polls?

Positivity: Over 4,200 Iraqi homes benefit from water and sewer system

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:10 am

From Centcom: